I'd like to know why it's necessary to remove himself from the following sentence to make it correct.

He doesn't care himself for us.

I'm trying to express a father's sacrifice, but I'm having trouble finding the correct phrasing in English.

Update: As I thought, It will be better to change like this.

"He doesn't take care of himself he only care for us." I wonder Is there some more improve point?

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    In order to give a meaningful answer, I think you would need to explain what you think the meaning or function is of himself in that sentence.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 12:08
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    A more appropriate question might be "Why would anyone think of putting 'himself' in that sentence?"
    – tunny
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 12:08
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    You can't 'care yourself'. You can feed yourself, given a fork, but 'care' has a 'direction', about, for etc. Perhaps substituting 'feel' would make it clearer, because 'feel' does work in both cases, but the meaning is massively different. "He doesn't feel for me" vs "He doesn't feel me" Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 12:09
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    @oerkelens : first thanks for asking that. I'd like to exaggeration and express as to father's sacrifice. But I'm not expert ENGLISH yet. So. I didn't expression to my think well.
    – Carter
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 12:26
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    By the way, you mention sacrifice. Does he care or does he not care? I'm confused as to the meaning you want to convey.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 12:34

7 Answers 7


I see what you mean! You are using himself as an object of didn't care. One alternative option that came to my mind is:

He didn't spare himself for us.

That is, in order to cater to our needs, he was ready to be very strict to himself. He was selfless, self-denying in caring for us.

We have a similar expression in Russian:

Он не жалел себя для нас.
- he did not care himself for us (in literal, word-for-word translation)
- he had no mercy on himself for our sake (in a less literal translation)

You wanted to use the verb in the sense of "to take pity, to have mercy, to consider one's own needs".

As to why himself can't be used in the sentence, SoItBegins provided a good answer.

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    -1 It is neither relevant nor helpful that Russian has a "similar expression." In addition, he did not care for himself does not and can not in English mean he did not spare himself. Thus your last sentence is ungrammatical, not unidiomatic.
    – user6951
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 18:31
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    Thanks for the comment, @CarSmack! I've removed the incorrect example. I thought a mention of a similar construction could be helpful because it explains why a person might come up with a sentence like this. Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 18:32
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    +1 for providing the OP with a verb (spare) that captures the apparent meaning intended by the OP. (And also for removing the ungrammatical he did not care for himself for us)
    – user6951
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 18:40

'Care' isn't a reflexive verb, and so does not take a 'self' (a reflexive pronoun) after the verb. A verb like 'wash' can be used reflexively, e.g. "wash himself", but 'care' can only be used similarly to 'care for (object)' or 'care about (object)'.

And you're right— the correct version of your sentence is,

He doesn't care for us.


He doesn't care himself for us.

Removing himself does makes it correct grammatically, but it changes the meaning to state that he does not care.

What could be used instead...

He cares selflessly for us.


He cares for us above himself.


It's an awkward construction as worded, but I don't think it's technically incorrect.

Consider the sentence without it: "He doesn't care for us." Depending on context, that could mean that he is unconcerned about our welfare, as in, "He doesn't care what happens to us", or it could mean that he doesn't provide care, as in, "He doesn't feed us or wash out clothes."

In the second case, what if "he" has some indirect role in providing for your care, but doesn't personally do the job? In that case you might say, "He doesn't care for us himself, but he pays the nursing home bill."

Or if you mean the first case, lack of concern, you may want to emphasize that it is "he" who doesn't care, and not just people in general, of whom "he" is just one example. This would be another case where you could add "himself". "He doesn't care for us himself."

The only problem with the original sentence is the odd placement of the word "himself". In cases like this, we typically put it immediately after "he" -- "He himself doesn't care for us" -- or at the end of the sentence -- "He doesn't care for us himself."

I think the sentence as written is valid, just unusual.

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    That's the whole point - you can move the 'himself' pretty much anywhere except where it is & improve the sentence. As it stands, it's nonsense. Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 17:25

To answer only the part about what you are trying to express, I think

He puts our needs ahead of his own

is reasonable and idiomatic. (That is, providing us with the things we need is a higher priority for him than providing himself with the things he needs.)


I think we should not object to the use of "himself" in the sentence. Instead, we should object to its wrong place in the sentence. As the saying goes, practice what you preach. He asks others to care for us, but he himself does not care for us. I have used the reflexive "himself" to emphasize "he" in the sentence.

However, the sentence "He does not care himself for us" does not sound correct.

I think it's not easy to answer the PO's question as we don't have a clear idea as to what she means in her sentence. My answer is just a correct version of her sentence, which expresses her father's attitude in a negative sense. If she wants to express her father's sacrifice in a positive sense, she will have to forget the sentence and rephrase it completely. For example, she may say that "He cares for us selflessly, he denies himself for us/our sake (maybe, to care for us), he denies himself every comfort for us/our sake, he sacrifices every comfort for us, etc. I am not sure whether it's OK if she says that "He does not care for himself for our sake.


Your sentence, the way it's worded, sounds like, "He, himself, doesn't care for us," which is the opposite of what you intend to express. Does this work? "He cares for us above his care for himself."

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